Costa Rica exported goods worth $2.4 billion in the first quarter of this year, compared to $2.2 billion during the same period last year, according to the Foreign Trade Ministry.
That 7.6% growth in exports, however, was not spread across all sectors of the economy.
Exports of textiles, fell 24%. The decrease, according to the ministry, was caused by the closure of several businesses that have lost customers in the delay and uncertainty surrounding the implementation of the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA), which voters approved in a referendum last October.
Among the big winners was the agriculture sector, which grew 10%, thanks to good performances from the pineapple, banana and coffee harvests. Exports of cantaloupe, however, suffered a 15% decrease in exports due to bad weather that damaged crops.
Another strong showing was posted in the processed food industry, whose sales abroad increased 30%, thanks to palm oil, juices and fruit spreads.
Industrial exports grew 6.3%, due to improved sales of goods such as computer parts and medical implants, the trade ministry said.
The United States continued to be the principal destination for Costa Rican exports, despite a 4.6% drop in exports to that country. Other big trading partners were Costa Rica’s Central American neighbors, China and the European Union.
Last year, exports totaled $9.34 billion, 14% more than the $8.2 billion in 2006.
Trade authorities have set a goal of $18 billion in annual exports by 2010. However, that goal seems to be getting harder to achieve, according to various official sources.